Hockey Champions 2015-2016 Season


It’s June and the ice has finally melted on the 2015-2016 hockey season.  I took a little more interest in hockey this year than in years past when my wife and I had the opportunity to attend some Nashville Predator games.  It was the first time she had been to a hockey game and my first exposure to the NHL.  We were at the first game to open the NHL season to watching the bitter end when San Jose eliminated the Predators in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.  

Here are the league champions from this season:

  • National Hockey League:  Pittsburgh Penguins
  • American Hockey League:  Lake Erie Monsters (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • ECHL:  Allen (TX) Americans
  • Federal Hockey League:  Port Huron (MI) Prowlers 
  • Southern Professional Hockey League:  Pensacola (FL) Ice Pilots
  • North American Hockey League:  Fairbanks (AK) Ice Dogs
  • Ontario Hockey League:  London (Ontario) Knights
  • United States Hockey League:  Tri-City Storm (Kearney, Nebraska)
  • Western Hockey League:  Brandon (Manitoba) Wheat Kings
  • National Women’s Hockey League:  Boston Pride
Advertisements

Team of the Week:  Pittsburgh Penguins


The Penguins claimed their fourth Stanley Cup in team history on Sunday night when they defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 to win the series 4 games to 2.  

Kris Letang broke a 1-1 tie at 7:46 of the second period which gave the Penguins the lead that stood up and added an empty net goal from Patric Hornqvist with 1:02 left.  

Penguins Goalie Matt Murray rebounded from his game 5 performance to stop 18 of 19 shots and made several big saves in front of Sharks’ fans who were in a frenzy to tie up the series and force a seventh game.  Pittsburgh was able to weather attempts from San Jose to capture the title.

Pittsburgh forward Sidney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy which goes to the Most Valuable Player in the NHL playoffs.  

Friday Flashback:  1983 NBA Finals – Philadelphia 76ers vs. Los Angeles Lakers


This one was pretty sweet because I had been a fan of Julius Erving (Dr. J) for many years and in 1983, the Philadelphia 76ers finally put all the pieces together including Moses Malone at Center to finally dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers and win the NBA Championship.

This was the third meeting in four years in the NBA finals between these two teams.  The Lakers had won the first two meetings in 1980 and 1982.  In those series, the 76ers had no counter for Lakers’ center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.   In the offseason, the 76ers acquired Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets and he paid off for the Sixers as they won 65 games in the regular season and stormed through the NBA playoffs sweeping the New York Knicks (4-0) and dominating the Milwuakee Bucks (4-1) to advance to the final against the Lakers.  Malone was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the series.  

The Sixers swept the Lakers in the finals 113-107, 103-93, 111-94 and 115-108.  With 59 seconds left in Game 4, Erving completed a three-point play to give the Sixers the lead late in the game and claim his first NBA title.  


The 1983 championship was the second NBA title for the Sixers.  They have not won a title since then and have only appeared in one final in 2001.

The 1983 finals was the last to end within the month of May. 

This was the only championship not to be won by either the Celtics or Lakers between 1980-1988.

The song “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters was the celebration theme song for the Sixers’ title win.

Erving played four more seasons with the Sixers and retired in 1987.  Malone was traded in 1986 and played for five other teams, including another stint with the Sixers, until he retired in 1995 and was the last active former American Basketball Association (ABA) player.  He died at the age of 60 in 2015.

Billy Cunningham coached the Sixers for two more seasons.  He retired in 1985 with a record of 454-196.  His teams never failed to make the playoffs during his coaching career.

Team of the Week:  Saskatchewan Rush


You might be asking what is a Saskatchewan Rush.   Is it that hairy creature wondering around in the Northwest (with some sighting reported in Villa Rica, Georgia)?

The Saskatchewan Rush is the team that has repeated as champions in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).  The indoor lacrosse team won the Champions Cup in front of 15,182 fans by defeating the Buffalo Bandits 11-10 on a game winning goal by Jeff Cornwall with 12 seconds left.   Cornwall scored on a dramatic breakaway on the play.  Click here to see the play

The Rush swept the series 2 games to 0.

The Rush overcame a 9-7 deficit in the final quarter.  The Rush scored three straight goals to take a 10-9 but the Bandits tied it up at 10-10 with 4:24 left to play.

Saskatchewan finished the regular season with a record of 13-5 then defeated Calgary 2 games to 0 in the semifinals.

The NLL hopes to expand to other cities next season.  Some of the cities being mentioned include:  Winnipeg, Quebec City, Montreal, Edmonton and Philadelphia.  Nashville has also been mentioned as a possibility so that the Georgia Swarm will have another partner in the Southeast.   

Friday Flashback:  American Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League


In 1977, the Amercian Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League (APSPL) began the first professional softball league.  The league opened with teams in Balitmore, New York, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Kentucky, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Chicago.  They also had some strange nicknames whether from sponsors or just plain “goofy” such as the Minnesota Goofys.  

Sports promoter Bill Byrne created the APSPL after his experience with the World Football League and the Women’s Professional Basketball League.    The league began in May of 1977 and featured several top amateur teams who were willing to spend more money to compete on a professional level.  

The league lasted from 1977-1980 when it merged with another league but by the late 1980s professional softball died.

The most dominate teams in the league were the Detroit Caesars and Milwaukee Schlitz.  Detroit captured two “world series” titles while Milwaukee claimed three.

The Caesars (sponsored by Little Caesars Pizza played home games at Memorial Field near Detroit.  A crowd of 9,000 turned out for their first game in June 1977.  The Caesars were led by Ronnie Ford who hit 88 home runs and drove in 196 in only 267 at bats.  The Caesars were the best team in the league in 1977 with a record of 42-14 and swept the Baltimore Monuments in four games to win the APSPL World Series.


For more information on the APSPL and yearly standings, visit http://www.angelfire.com/sad/slopitch/pro.html

Friday Flashback:  American Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League


In 1977, the Amercian Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League (APSPL) began the first professional softball league.  The league opened with teams in Balitmore, New York, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Kentucky, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Chicago.  They also had some strange nicknames whether from sponsors or just plain “goofy” such as the Minnesota Goofys.  

Sports promoter Bill Byrne created the APSPL after his experience with the World Football League and the Women’s Professional Basketball League.    The league began in May of 1977 and featured several top amateur teams who were willing to spend more money to compete on a professional level.  

The league lasted from 1977-1980 when it merged with another league but by the late 1980s professional softball died.

The most dominate teams in the league were the Detroit Caesars and Milwaukee Schlitz.  Detroit captured two “world series” titles while Milwaukee claimed three.

The Caesars (sponsored by Little Caesars Pizza played home games at Memorial Field near Detroit.  A crowd of 9,000 turned out for their first game in June 1977.  The Caesars were led by Ronnie Ford who hit 88 home runs and drove in 196 in only 267 at bats.  The Caesars were the best team in the league in 1977 with a record of 42-14 and swept the Baltimore Monuments in four games to win the APSPL World Series.


For more information on the APSPL and yearly standings, visit http://www.angelfire.com/sad/slopitch/pro.html

American Ultimate Disc League Standings

West Division

  1. San Francisco FlameThrowers (8-0)
  2. Seattle Cascades (6-3)
  3. Vancouver Riptide (3-4)
  4. LA Aviators (2-3)
  5. San Jose Spiders (2-5)
  6. San Diego Growlers (1-7)

East Division

  1. Toronto Rush (8-1)
  2. DC Breeze (6-4)
  3. New York Empire (4-3)
  4. Montreal Royal (4-6)
  5. Ottawa Outlaws (2-5)
  6. Philadelphia Phoenix (0-5)

Midwest Division

  1. Madison Radicals (7-0)
  2. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (6-3)
  3. Minnesota Wind Chill (6-3)
  4. Indianapolis AlleyCats (5-4)
  5. Chicago Wildfire (3-5)
  6. Detroit Mechanix (3-5)
  7. Cincinnati Revolution (0-11)

South Division

  1. Dallas Roughnecks (9-0)
  2. Raleigh Flyers (6-3)
  3. Atlanta Hustle (4-5)
  4. Austin Sol (4-5)
  5. Jacksonville Cannons (4-5)
  6. Charlotte Express (3-5)
  7. Nashville Nightwatch (1-8)

ESPN3 Game of the Week:  Saturday, June 4 – Pittsburgh at Madison

Nightwatch Report:

Nashville lost in Dallas 34-23 for their sixth straight loss.  For a brief moment on Sunday, the Nightwatch held a lead on the Roughnecks when Jake Wright connected with Blake Waldron for the first score of the game.  It was the first time all season that Dallas had trailed in a game.   The Nightwatch will be off this weekend but return to action next Saturday when they host the Atlanta Hustle.

Team Of The Week:  El Paso Chihuahuas


The Chihuahuas are one of the more unique nicknames in sports today.  Every time I think about this time I can envision a bunch of chihuahuas running out onto the field to take their positions.  I also wonder what the players think when they are assigned to this Triple A club for the San Diego Padres.   Well, it could be worse.  We might feature some of those teams later.

The Chiuahuas came into existence during the midst of several franchise changes in minor league baseball.  The Tucson Padres moved to El Paso in 2014.  A name-the-team contest was held which also consisted of Aardvarks, Buckaroos, Desert Gators and Sun Dogs.  Not sure what a “desert gator” is.

The Chiuahuas won a division title last season but fell short in the Pacific League playoffs to the Fresno Grizzlies.

El Paso is currently 29-22 and first place in the Pacific Coast League Southern Division.  They are led by Right Fielder Alex Dickerson with a .411 batting average.  Daniel McCutchen leads the pitching staff with a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 6.79.   

Friday Flashback:  Atlanta Fire Ants


In the 1990s roller hockey was a fad on the rise and a professional league called Roller Hockey International (RHI) was created.  In 1994, the Fire Ants took the floor of the Omni Coliseum as one of 12 expansion teams in the summer of 1994.  The Fire Ants played only one season in Atlanta and finished with a record of 10-10-2.  Finishing in fourth place in their division, they managed to qualify for the playoffs but were swept by the Minnesota Arctic Blast in two games.

The leading scorer for the Fire Ants was Tony Szabo with 31 goals in 22 games.  

The Fire Ants averaged 3,388 fans at home and ranked 16 out of 24 teams in attendance.  The franchise was moved to Oklahoma City following the season.

The RHI was in operation from 1993-1999.  

Is the NHL season over yet?


No it isn’t.  Last night the San Jose Sharks eliminated the St. Louis Blues to advance to the Stanley Cup final which they will await the winner of Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay.  Yep, the Stanley Cup Finals will begin around Memorial Day weekend.  There was a story yesterday that TV ratings for the NHL playoffs are very low.  One reason given is that there are no major markets like Chicago, New York, LA or Canadian teams in the the playoffs.  Honestly, no one wants to watch the playoffs now unless their team is in it.  One reason people might not be watching is because it is almost summer and people want to be outside or watching sports of the season.  It’s hard to watch hockey on TV when you associate it with a winter sport.

My proposal would be to shorten the NHL playoffs from best-of-7 series to best-of-5 games.  Also ending the regular season the first weekend of April would help keep the playoffs mostly in the month of April where the seasons are changing.   

Or you could just put all the major market/Canadian teams in their own conference so you could guarantee that they would be in the Stanley Cup Final.

Personally I think the ice hockey should end when the ice melts.